It was a "Big Bright Beautiful World" in Frederick Thursday and Friday April 27 and 28 when the Frederick Middle School choir presented their version of Shrek the Musical, Jr.
The 2001 film was such a hit that of course it became a musical. The antagonist, Lord Farquaad exiles fairytale creatures to the swamp where the “vicious” ogre Shrek (Avery May) lives. Shrek finds out from the fairytale creatures that they were forced to settle in the swamp by Lord Farquaad.
As Pinocchio (Jaida Norris) explains, “All fairy tale creatures have been banished from the Kingdom of Duloc. All fruitcakes and freaks are hereby evicted.”
Shrek wants his swamp back so he travels to Duloc to confront Lord Farquaad, where he agrees to give back the swamp if he travels to the Dragon’s Keep and rescues Princess Fiona from the highest room in the tallest tower where she’s been languishing since childhood waiting for her Prince Charming to rescue her with “true love’s first kiss.” Shrek, with his trusty sidekick Donkey (Danny Peevyhouse) rescue Fiona from the Dragon (Taytum Cole-Rogans) and begin their journey back to Duloc, where men of “Lord Farquaad’s stature are in – short – supply.”
In the FMS production Liana Garza portrayed Adult Fiona, Cierra Collins played Teen Fiona, and Zoee Tyler played young Fiona. The Fionas get one of the best songs of the show. “I know it’s Today” has some great harmonies and is a fun piece to watch. Garza did a fantastic job as Adult Fiona. She is one that will be fun to watch if she chooses to continue acting. Her singing was beautiful, and she delivered her lines with her entire face.
Garza said she was excited when she got the role of Fiona.
“It was a very fun experience, and I am so glad I did it because I made new friends along the way,” Garza said. “I am very thankful for my family, friends, Mrs. Schreiner, and Mrs. Schneider for helping me learn the role in such a short amount of time. I'm so glad I got to share this with the other choir members. There is a lot of talent at Frederick Middle School!”
Another favorite moment was “Story of My Life.” Jaida Norris’ Pinocchio was lively and fun. When an actor’s face is covered by a costume or prop, in this case a moveable nose piece, the actor has to act with their entire body to get their feelings across to the audience. Norris did a fantastic job with that. From her voice to the body movements, it was just an all-around fun performance.
“I’m not a puppet, I’m a reeeal boy!” Norris said. “To be honest I was originally cast to be a Dragonfly. My cousin Danny (Donkey) was originally cast to be Pinocchio. “I would change my voice, to match his ‘Pinocchio’ voice, to playfully mock him. The day he took over Donkey’s lines, Danny told the teachers they should make me Pinocchio because I already had the voice for it and knew the lines, well…joke was on me, ‘cause they agreed. I was nervous to take on such a fun part at first.”
Well, I think the audience would agree that it was a great decision directors Heather Schneider and Carisa Schreiner made.
Junior versions of musicals pare down the original versions to a more manageable length, which can be disappointing if you’re expecting to see some of your favorite numbers and discover the junior version cut them.
My favorite musical number from the full version of Shrek the Musical is Donkey’s song “Don't Let Me Go.” Unfortunately, the Junior version doesn’t include that number. However, Danny Peevyhouse’s performance of Donkey more than made up for that number being cut. Peevyhouse’s performance was energetic with his body and his facial expressions. He was definitely one of my favorite characters. He brought Donkey’s loveable, silly personality to life on stage. A true “noble steed.”
“I had so much fun playing the role of Donkey because I grew up watching these characters from a young age,” Peevyhouse said. “I loved getting to sing the “Travel Song” and playing this role alongside my cousins and friends! I’m excited and look forward to contest and future musicals next year in high school.”
Local music teacher and lover of all things musical, Marcy Prescott, said she loves Shrek.
“Shrek is such a fun show,” Prescott said. “There were four standouts for me. Liliana Garza was a wonderful older Fiona and Danny Peevyhouse truly blew me away as Donkey. I also loved Karagyn Snodgrass as Puss in Boots. Taytum Cole-Rogans was a phenomenal and gorgeous dragon. Her song blew me away. It was the perfect song for her voice.
“Doing musicals is so valuable,” Prescott continued. “It teaches kids self-discipline, to work together, to express themselves in new ways and it builds self-confidence. They learn new skills by building sets, painting backdrops, experimenting with stage lights and running spotlights. Some of my favorite memories are from doing high school musicals. Thank you Janet Atchley, James Redeker, Frances Honaker, and Frederick Public Schools!”
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